Kitchen cabinet choices set the tone for the space. If your cabinets are dark, the room will likely be a bit more formal, while painted cabinets suggest a more casual design choice. If you’re ready to upgrade your cabinets but don’t need to replace them, you have many options.

Staining vs. Painting

If your cabinets are already painted, a second coat of paint is fairly simple. Remove the doors and hardware. Lightly sand the existing paint to create texture for the new paint to cling to. Apply the new coat of paint with a light touch and small foam roller. Be sure to use paint that is at least a semi-gloss finish and is washable for kitchen and bath use. Two light coats of paint will give you a better finish than one heavy coat, particularly if the cabinet surface includes molding. You can darken an existing stain by lightly sanding and gently brushing a stain and sealer combination over the surface. Again, work flat. You’ll need a dust-free space with plenty of airflow to re-stain your cabinets.


Replacing your hardware can quickly brighten your existing cabinets. Consider a brushed or muted metal finish as bright brass and chrome can look dated and will show dust, water spots and grease more quickly. If you’re drilling new holes for hardware placement, review the Correct Kitchen Cabinet Hardware Placement Guide. While centering knobs or pulls may seem like the correct way to go, it is often better to place them higher than the true vertical center. You can also reduce the effort it takes to open low drawers by putting the pull near the top edge of the drawer.


You can make your kitchen a more user-friendly space with roll-outs and pot rack attachments. Make your bottom cabinets more accessible with roll-out trays to reduce the time you have to spend digging around at the back of a cabinet. Carefully review the “black hole corners” in your kitchen to find better access. If your budget is small, be aware that adding hooks can make it easy to store many items. For very little money, you can make it much easier to use every inch of your kitchen storage.

Your kitchen is a highly utilized area of your home. A DIY kitchen cabinet upgrade can brighten the space, increase your utilization of the area, and make this hardworking room easier to work in. From your cooking tools to your food supplies, you can customize features of your kitchen to simplify the process of feeding your family.

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